Last Thursday, Sierra Club and its allies hosted a tele-town hall with 21,000 participants in the Twin Cities with local representatives that shared information with participants about EPA’s proposed health standards.
For those not familiar with this new technology, you might be shocked to hear that 21,000 participated in a conference call about the EPA and Clean Air. Technology is facilitating organizing at a much larger scale than the past. The Sierra Club worked with a company in DC to send an automated call to 100,000 women asking if they would like to join the forum. If they opted in, they joined the forum with several expert speakers and they were able to ask questions, just like a regular town hall.
Deanna White of Clean Water Action moderated the call. Deanna has a long history of working to protect children’s health from toxic pollution. Dr. George Lundgren, a family physician in Shakopee, provided expert experience in addressing the health impacts of air pollution. Shawna Helund, MPH, is a mom of three in Minneapolis, and she shared her first hand experience as a mom of children with asthma.
They discussed how polluters in Minnesota and across the country are pumping millions of tons of pollution — like arsenic, carbon dioxide, mercury, and dioxin into the atmosphere. We breathe it, our parents breathe it and our children breathe it. It pollutes our air, water, atmosphere, and lands. Polluters are dumping pollution on us and it makes us sick. Some of us get asthma, some get cancer, some die. And our children are particularly vulnerable to this pollution.
Doctors, researchers, and public health professionals know that pollution from power plants and other industrial sources causes asthma attacks, heart attacks, and other conditions that sicken or kill hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. More than 100 people in Minnesota died in 2010 because of power plant pollution and more than 85 are admitted to the hospital because of power plant pollution each year. There are currently 16 large coal plants in Minnesota that spew dangerous pollution into our air.
But there is something that we can do. Our families don’t have to keep suffering from this toxic pollution. Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, want to protect us by adjusting our clean air standards and closing the polluter loophole. The polluters are doing everything they can to stop them.
That is why the Sierra Club launched its Stop Polluters campaign. Volunteers across Minnesota are gathering thousands of comments right now to protect children’s health from toxic mercury pollution coming from coal power plants. You can find out more about the Stop Polluters campaign and take action at http://www.sierraclub.org/stoppolluters/.